'Act on Autism' appeal to Pope Benedict XVI after Bertha Church Autism Ban

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Pope Benedict XVI has been urged to act on autism after Adam Race, a 13 year old boy with severe autism was banned from the Roman Catholic Church of St.Joseph in Bertha, Minnesota by his priest Fr.Daniel Walz. According to court documents, Fr. Daniel Walz took out a temporary restraining order on the boy with autism and his mother Carol Race on the grounds of disruptive behaviour.' They were threatened with arrest by the Sheriff of Todd County if they entered the church for Mass.

Campaigners are now calling on the Vatican to provide guidelines to all Roman Catholic Churches around the world on how the clergy and church authorities should react to children and adults with autism and Asperger's syndrome.

There are 60 million people with autism around the world and churches have also seen an increase in numbers of children with autism coming through their doors. According to the CDC, 1 in 150 children in the United States has autism.

An appeal has gone out to Pope Benedict at the Vatican in Rome to speak out on the complex needs of children and adults with autism - as no Pope has publicly addressed the issue. The need for instructions from the Pope in order to prevent controversies such as the banning of Adam Race from his church in Bertha, Minnesota, are essential, according to campaigners. They are calling for greater understanding of the condition and for dialogue between religious organisations and parents and carers.

Rev. Daniel Walz, pastor at St. Joseph, filed a petition with the court saying that Adam’s large size and “disruptive and dangerous behavior” posed a risk to his congregation. Pope Benedict has been urged to intervene in the Bertha Case.


Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
the church should be leading the way through compassionate teaching of this young lad. I agree that instant introduction into the church may not be the way to go but educated and supportive teaching can teach this young lad the way to behave and support his family. Shame on the church if it supports such a ban.

Submitted by Grace (not verified) on
The news articles are apparently leaving out some very pertinent details in this case. After doing a little net research, if even part of what is being reported about this family is true, the parents are doing a disservice to their son as well as to the pastor & members of that parish. I have an autistic son myself & even though I understand about how some of them find pressure soothing, I would still be very perturbed by an obviously disturbed & upset teenage boy that we didn't know (& probably even if we did know) unexpectedly pulling my daughter onto his lap to soothe himself as is alleged to have happened - that it happened at the pinnacle of Catholic worship just makes it that much more sensitive. Shame on the parents for showing so little regard for their son's inability to handle the sensory overload & so little regard for the members of that parish. Shame on the press for manipulating the public - again.

Submitted by Marianne (not verified) on
Every effort to allow Adam to attend mass must be made. I know the Race's plight. I have a developmentally disabled twin brother and it is 2008, time to open minds and hearts. Please, brothers and sisters, step aside and allow Adam this joy. His joys are simple and maybe the sound of the choir fills his soul, don't take that away. We have the ability as Christians to accept and make room for all God's children. I know first hand how the family feels, we make allowances for the blind and the deaf, we make room for wheelchairs so please find it in your hearts to step aside and make room for Adam. Keep the faith Race's! You are in my prayers! Marianne Bloomingdale, Illinois

Submitted by sam (not verified) on
The funny thing is, if Jesus had been at that church, he would have just driven the demon out of the boy and he would be fine right now. Mat17:19 Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? Mat17:20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Mat17:21 Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting. The church in question should have resorted to prayer and fasting rather than a restraining order.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
What domination of little faith in JESUS...Do u think that Jesus our savior would banned people with any medical condtion from any group gathering, church groups, and pray groups???? But there are some religions in the world that make up ther own rules to accomidate there own belifs other then in the belief of JESUS....Because if u believe in Jesus there should be nothing to fear.. It seems that the people in certain faiths can cover up and hide sins through the authority figures of their church to make people belif in their doctrine...but all it comes down to is the belief in Jesus. So when it comes down to the final say God will have the final judgement....

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